Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Whatever Happened to Promise Keepers?

Denny at VitalSigns Ministries writes: Promise Keepers certainly isn't making the national splash it once did.



The absence of the outspoken, charismatic Coach Bill McCartney at the helm of Promise Keepers left the movement without its initial fervor and its ability to grab the headlines. The football arenas around the country haven't been filled with attentive worshipers for a long time now and Promise Keepers' hope to create thousands of "accountability groups" among America's Christian men never really materialized.

However, neither of these failures are the fault of Promise Keepers as an organization. The real problems in reaching the organization's goals have come from all the "regular suspects" which have historically limited the Christian man's spirituality in America: apathy, inconsistency, improper passions, desires for comfort and entertainment, and so on. Promise Keepers did an incredible job of shaking things up in the early 90's -- God bless 'em for their vision and dedication to biblical orthodoxy. But keeping things shook up? Well, that required the rest of us to follow through with courage, faith and an aggressive work ethic for the Kingdom. We didn't.

So, is Promise Keepers completely a thing of the past? No, far from it. Their audience events may be smaller, fewer and less publicized but the organization is very much alive with enthusiasm and commitment. And, of particular significance, Promise Keepers hasn't sold out its founding purposes. When the numbers began to decline, there must have been tremendous pressure brought upon Promise Keepers to compromise its values, to soften its doctrinal statement, to pragmatically remove (or at least keep quiet about) some of its more controversial elements, especially its insistence on preaching Christ crucified, its pro-life convictions, its fidelity to biblical teachings on marriage and sexuality, etc. But Promise Keepers kept its own promise to God and therefore deserves our fervent appreciation and respect.

And they deserve our present attention too.

For although the "movement" of Promise Keepers (amazingly influential) has run its course, the ministry of the modern version of Promise Keepers is very much alive. Clicking on the title of this post will take you to the Promise Keepers web site where a visitor can see how true the organization has been to the Lord Jesus and how active they yet are in changing the character of America by bringing redemption, illumination and spiritual power to one man at a time.

So, for those of you who well remember the way God moved you in one of those PK stadium rallies and for those of you whose earnest spiritual adventure began after those halcyon days, today's Promise Keepers is a ministry well worth your prayers, your support and your participation.

(Wednesday, May 31, 2006)

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Manly Men



Courtesy: SacredSandwich

Friday, July 07, 2006

Local churches start men's groups

By Michelle Fitzhugh-Craig, STAFF WRITER: INSIDE BAY AREA.com

It's common for women to gather and share their innermost thoughts and feelings. Ask a group of men to do the same and you may be met with some resistance.

There is, however, a growing movement among churches to honor and recognize men as they have women through a variety of programs that uplift, engage and support, for males only.

"Men's ministry basically focuses on a number of areas," says Barry Zwahlen, a board elder at Community Presbyterian Church in Danville. "The general idea is creating venues where men can get to know each other ... to build relationships."

At CPC, ministers have found creative ways to encourage men to participate in male-oriented groups and events. For example, one fall the church held meetings on Monday nights centered around Monday Night Football, but also included a speaker that offered spiritual enlightenment to the guys. The church also hosts a men's retreat in February and invites national speakers and groups to facilitate. This event is open to non-church members, too.

At Valley Christian Center in Dublin, Eric Lura agrees with Zwahlen that programs should appeal to what men typically enjoy.

"We grow from shared experiences and men seem to connect with shared experiences with other guys," says the director of Men's Ministry at VCC. "We don't naturally come together."

Lura says his church has events like its barbecue tri-tip dinner that features classic cars with an auto tips component. He says a speaker is invited to talk about auto and "spiritual restoration." Power breakfasts, their men's retreat and summit and outreach programs have drawn an average of 50-plus men to the events.

Men's ministries have been a staple of many places of worship for decades, however, have gained popularity in recent years especially with movements like the Promise Keepers says Lura. The Christ-centered organization based in Denver is dedicated to introducing men to Jesus as their Savior and helping them to grow as Christians.

Rev. Chuck Johnstone with Asbury United Methodist Church in Livermore says it's important to have programs that help foster growth in many areas of a man's life.

"I believe there is a need for mutual support, encouragement and sharing of issues relevant to men," says the senior pastor. "Work, parenting, partnering, retirement, health issues, spiritual growth and faithfulness ... these kinds of programs attend to some of those needs."

Zwahlen, who also works with youth at CPC, says although the programs men's ministries offer an opportunity to grow with one's Creator, he believes men need relationships.

"I think men need to be in relationships with other men ... we need to hold each other accountable, pray for each other, be there for one another," says Zwahlen.

Michelle Fitzhugh-Craig can be reached at (925) 416-4817 or at mcraig@trivalleyherald.com.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

For men in church, problems start with flowers and lace

By KRISTEN CAMPBELL, Religion News Service

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Men don’t need pirates in the pews. Then again, the presence of such swashbucklers might not be the worst thing to happen Sunday morning.

So goes the thinking of David Murrow, author of “Why Men Hate Going to Church.”

“We don’t have to have hand-to-hand combat during the worship service to get men there,” Murrow said. “We just have to start speaking (their language), use the metaphors they understand and create an environment that feels masculine to them.”

Today’s churches, Murrow argued, just aren’t cutting it.

“My background is in marketing and advertising, and one day I was sitting in church and all of a sudden it dawned on me that the target audience of almost everything about church culture was a 50- to 55-year-old woman,” said Murrow, a Presbyterian elder who’s now a member of a nondenominational congregation in Anchorage, Alaska.

The gender gap isn’t a distinctly American one but it is a Christian one, according to Murrow. The theology and practices of Judaism, Buddhism and Islam offer “uniquely masculine” experiences for men, he said.

“Every Muslim man knows that he is locked in a great battle between good and evil, and although that was a prevalent teaching in Christianity until about 100 years ago, today it’s primarily about having a relationship with a man who loves you unconditionally,” Murrow said.

“And if that’s the punch line of the gospel, then you’re going to have a lot more women than men taking you up on your offer because women are interested in a personal relationship with a man who loves you unconditionally. Men, generally, are not.”

Concern about the perceived femininization of Christianity — and the subsequent backlash — is nothing new.

In the middle of the 19th century, two-thirds of church members in New England were women, said Bret E. Carroll, professor of history at California State University, Stanislaus. Portrayals of Jesus around that time depicted a doe-eyed savior with long, flowing hair and white robes.

Then, around the 1870s and 1880s, came a growing emphasis on making religion attractive to men. The movement known as “muscular Christianity” extolled manliness, and had its heyday from 1880 to 1920, according to Clifford Putney in “Muscular Christianity.”

Around the same time, fraternal orders grew exponentially among the urban middle classes, according to an online article by Mark C. Carnes, author of “Secret Ritual and Manhood in Victorian America.”

Not only did the groups provide men with opportunities to cultivate business connections, Carnes writes, but they appealed to some who “found satisfaction in the exotic rituals, which provided a religious experience antithetical to liberal Protestantism and a masculine ‘family’ vastly different from the one in which most members had been raised.”

Fast forward to the late 20th century, when Promise Keepers experienced enormous — if somewhat fleeting — popularity. Determining the lasting influence of this or any other movement in men’s spiritual lives proves difficult.

But the Rev. Chip Hale, pastor of Spanish Fort United Methodist Church in Spanish Fort, Ala., said he believes “real strides” have been made with Promise Keepers and other men’s movements. Mission trips and hurricane relief work have also helped to make faith become real for some.

“These guys have really come out because it’s something they can do,” Hale said. “They feel like they’ve made a contribution. ... I think men like to do things that they feel comfortable doing.”

Yet come Sunday morning, “we’re going to sing love songs to Jesus and there’s going to be fresh flowers on the altar and quilted banners on the walls,” Murrow said.

Men aren’t the only ones alienated by such an environment. According to Murrow, young people aren’t that keen on it either. Both groups are challenge-oriented and appreciate risk, adventure, variety, pleasure and reward — values some churches “ignore or vilify,” Murrow writes.

Murrow said “it would look like the rapture” if women didn’t come to the typical church one Sunday.

“The whole thing would grind to a halt,” said Murrow, who said he wrote the book for laywomen in particular. “They’re the ones who are suffering most from this gender gap. A lot of women feel overworked and underappreciated in our churches today because they are carrying the load.”

Churches have to help men and women use their gifts, not just fit them into old religious molds, Murrow said.

“There has to be some stretching and risk or you’re not going to get men, and I think you’re not going to get the upcoming generation of women either,” he said. “We’re ripping women off by making the church so much about nurturing and caring and relationships, and they’re missing that component that they need.”

Via: Naple News

Move To Make Churches More Attractive To Men

Is Jesus more like Mother Teresa or William Wallace? That is the question asked by John Eldredge in Wild at Heart, his popular book for men. Eldredge suggests that the answer depends on what you need from Jesus right now. If you’re a leper, an outcast, a pariah of society whom no-one will touch, then you’d probably want Jesus to be like the saintly nun who ministered in the streets of Calcutta. However, if you’re more concerned with how we tackle the moral challenges of society and advance the values of the kingdom of God, then he suggests we need Jesus to be more like the liberator of Scotland, made famous by Mel Gibson in the movie Braveheart. At the heart of this question is how the Church ministers to men. One organization that has successfully turned the spotlight on men’s issues in the church is Promise Keepers. After 12 years of running large Events for Men, Promise Keepers is sharpening its focus on ministry with men at a local church level. National director of Promise Keepers, Paul Subritzky, says “We are convinced that if men are to be reached in ever-increasing numbers, we have to do all we can to support the churches."

Via: Crosswalk

Monday, May 29, 2006

The spiritual life enters brave new digital world

Connection to god: FaithMobile will send a daily Bible verse to your cell phone for $5.99 a month. In this harried age, a founder asks, how else are you going to "get in touch with the Word?" This screen shot of the FaithMobile Web site features its Promise Keepers content on a mobile phone. - Los Angeles Times

The spiritual life enters brave new digital world

A recent national poll found just 17 percent of adults view the local church as essential for developing faith.

By Stephanie Simon / Los Angeles Times

A recent national poll found just 17 percent of adults view the local church as essential for developing faith.

Small wonder.

Sitting in a pew on Sunday morning seems almost embarrassingly old-fashioned in an era when you can watch a video re-creation of the Last Supper on your Palm or get Scripture text-messaged to your cell phone.

Bored with your pastor's ramblings? Select a peppier sermon from among hundreds of "godcasts" online. Just pick a topic: Christian dating? Old Testament prophets? Then download it to your MP3 player.

Finding the old leather-bound Bible a bit cumbersome? A quick download from Olive Tree Bible Software and you'll be able to search Scripture on your BlackBerry.

"At first blush, it may seem a little peculiar to connect with God on your cell phone," said Christopher Chisholm, a TV-executive-turned-digital-evangelist. He recently helped launch FaithMobile, a service that will send a daily Bible verse to your cell phone for $5.99 a month.

In this harried age, he asks, how else are you going to "get in touch with the Word?"

The explosion in digitized spirituality might seem likely to make the traditional sanctuary obsolete. But pastors are fighting back with high-tech tricks.

Read the rest here

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Promise Keepers Power Up Men to be Unleashed

Lillian Kwon from The Christian Post writes:

Eight weeks before one of the largest religious conferences unleashes in 19 cities, Promise Keepers has already begun to "Power Up" each conference venue for the tens of thousands of men ready to reach their full potential.

The Friday night rallies hit the first two cities – Ft. Lauderdale and Albany – where the 2006 Unleashed conferences will kick off beginning June 2 and will make its round to nine more ahead of the main city conferences. Hundreds of men have rallied to plan, pray and strategize for the annually anticipated event that even has women encouraging men's participation.

"It's just a taste of what guys will experience at the main event," said Steve Hutton, vice president of field ministry for Promise Keepers, in a released statement. "The men who know about Promise Keepers and respond early can come to 'Power Up' to pick up some strategies and encouragement to bring other guys to the Unleashed conference."

After blowing away the more than 176,000 men who partook in the Awakening conferences in 20 cities last year, ministry leader Phil Chapin has returned as keynote speaker for the local church momentum-building rallies.

"I really want to meet the men of Promise Keepers in a local church setting, where we can go a little deeper, and inspire each other to do some great things in this broken world," he said.

In response to high demand for men's ministry training, Power Up rallies are being followed by half-day training sessions for pastors, lay leaders and others.

The 2006 conferences have been retooled to centralize the focus on men discovering their potential, finding a pathway to optimize their talents, and moving in that direction with a few other like-minded friends.

"Promise Keepers wants to unleash men to reach their full potential," said R. Tom Fortson, president and CEO of Promise Keepers. "The 2006 experience will help men identify the power of God in them and empower them to reach their designed potential as husband, fathers, leaders, and followers of God."

Today, men are not just falling short of their full potential, but leaving the church altogether.

This year's keynote speaker, Dr. Bob Reccord, former president of the North American Mission Board, said that times are changing, and, for that matter, the church must change. Furthermore, the people in the pews must play the service role to help the church succeed.

As for the men, Fortson points to the conferences to recharge and unleash them at their greatest potential.

"Congregations on average are more than 60 percent female; and many men and youth are leaving traditional houses of worship in search for something else," stated Fortson. "There is a disconnect between men's deepest wants and needs and the churches that need men so badly. That's why Promise Keepers is so important. The man-friendly environment of our conferences recharges men, and when they leave the event, they are ready to serve their congregations, families and communities."

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Meet the Head Coach of the "Man Church"

From the Promise Keepers May 2006 - Volume 40 newsletter:

Back in the October 2005 issue of this newsletter, we introduced you to Mark Doebler, Head Coach (pastor) of The Grove Church in Peoria, IL -- a church believed to be the first in the country specifically targeting men.  Mark was recently in Denver for the National Coalition of Men's Ministries conference and took time to visit our offices.

In this interview with Promise Keepers' Steve Chavis, Mark talked about the tremendous growth the church is experiencing...and why women are all for it.

Excerpt:

Steve: Describe a typical service. Sunday you meet around what time?

Mark: We meet at 10:00am. And it’s kind of funny that you would ask "typical," because we have a saying that comes out almost every Sunday. We say, “We’re going to do something a little different today.” We are predictably unpredictable, and that’s exciting. Because I don’t ever want to get in a rut.

But we meet around tables and, you know, I came from the business world until just a few years ago. And if you ever go to a training seminar or conference, you’re training, right? You’re learning. You’re gathering information. You’re becoming more skilled at what you do, and how do you enter that environment? You sit around tables, right?

You’ve got a cup of coffee in front of you. You’ve got a scratch pad of notes in front of you. And that’s the way men go and learn.

Well, why can’t we do that at church? I mean what is it about church that means we’ve got to sit in rigid chairs and be stiff as a board and totally uncomfortable. I learn much better in a comfortable atmosphere.

And so I think most men feel much more welcome and invited in that environment. And so we began by sitting around tables.

Read the rest of the transcript

Subscribe to Promise Keepers Newsletter here

PREPARING THE WAY FOR MIRACLES

From the Promise Keepers May 2006 - Volume 40 newsletter:

Have you ever noticed how often Jesus used “helpers” to perform His miracles?  It’s one of those things we don’t often think about because we’re focused on the miracle itself!  When water turns into wine, a large crowd gets fed from five loaves and two fishes, or a lame man begins to walk again, your attention is obviously taken away from those who may have prepared the way before the miracle.  That’s the way it’s always been, and it’s the way it always should be!

Yet, if you think about it, many of those miracles would have never taken place if someone would not have stepped into the gap and prepared the way.  Jesus was the “miracle worker,” but He often used ordinary folks to accomplish that miracle.  He asked the servants at the wedding in Cana to fill the basins with water before changing it into wine.  The disciples brought the meager lunch for Jesus to bless, and then personally distributed the bounty to the awe struck crowd.  Four strong friends needed to carry the lame man to Jesus and then break through the roof before Jesus healed the man from his crippled state.

Over and over again you see “volunteers” stepping into the role of preparing the way for God to perform miracles.  The things they do often may go unnoticed, but their role seems to be essential.  Certainly God doesn’t require our assistance to do the miraculous, but He does often ask us to be involved in the process.

Each year, thousands of men, women and teenagers fill that role at Promise Keepers conferences around the country.  They do simple, ordinary tasks that may go unnoticed, but which help prepare the way for miracles in men’s lives!  At PK we often say “every seat filled is an opportunity for a miracle.”  By giving people an opportunity to do that which God created them to do, which is to “serve others,” the volunteer effort at a local Promise Keepers conference lets everyday folks share in this life-changing ministry of miracles.

Don’t miss the privilege of being a part of this incredible experience at a PK Conference near you this year!  Sign up today as a volunteer and see how God will use you to help perform a “miracle” in someone’s life!!

Subscribe to Promise Keepers Newsletter here

God's Call Comes by Cellphone

Bible verses on a BlackBerry, sermons on an MP3 -- an explosion in digitalized spirituality is making true believers of online e-vangelists.
By Stephanie Simon, Times Staff Writer
May 16, 2006

A recent national poll found just 17% of adults view the local church as essential for developing faith.

Small wonder.

Sitting in a pew on Sunday morning seems almost embarrassingly old-fashioned in an era when you can watch a video recreation of the Last Supper on your Palm or get God's word text-messaged to your cellphone.

Bored with your pastor's ramblings? Select a peppier sermon from among hundreds of "godcasts" online. Just pick a topic: Christian dating? Old Testament prophets? Then download it to your MP3 player.

Finding the old leather-bound Bible a bit cumbersome? A quick download from Olive Tree Bible Software and you'll be able to search Scripture on your BlackBerry.

"At first blush, it may seem a little peculiar to connect with God on your cellphone," said Christopher Chisholm, a TV-executive-turned-digital-evangelist. He recently helped launch FaithMobile, a service that will send a daily Bible verse to your cellphone for $5.99 a month.

In this harried age, he asks, how else are you going to "get in touch with the Word?"

The explosion in digitized spirituality might seem likely to make the traditional sanctuary obsolete. But pastors are not giving in. They're fighting back with some high-tech tricks of their own, turning to the Internet to save souls, renew faith, inspire hope — and, not incidentally, to fill their pews.

Read the rest: God's Call Comes by Cellphone